Attendees of the Raise Your Hand Texas Campus to Capitol Leadership Symposium are encouraged to visit the Texas Capitol and meet with their statewide elected officials.

This event provides school leaders the opportunity to initiate and grow relationships with decision-makers who shape Texas public education policy and funding. The goal is for school leaders to become resources to their representatives, and to communicate the successes Texas students are experiencing in their public schools.

During these visits, you are representing yourself, your school, and your students. You are not representing Raise Your Hand Texas, nor advocating for our policy interests.

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PLANNING YOUR CAPITOL VISIT

SCHEDULING MEETINGS

All symposium attendees are responsible for scheduling legislator appointments. If you know there are many attendees from the same legislative district, you may coordinate the scheduling as a group, but you are not required to.

WHEN TO SCHEDULE

We recommend you make contact as soon as possible schedule your appointments.

HOW TO SCHEDULE

  • Find out who represents your school by entering your campus address here.
  • Call both your state senator and state representative’s offices to schedule two individual meetings.

Call Tips

  • Identify yourself as the principal (or appropriate title) of your campus or district. Say you are going to be in Austin and are taking time to visit the Capitol.
  • Say you are calling to schedule a meeting with the senator or representative and the best time for you is Wednesday, February 1, between 2 – 3:45 p.m.
    1. The office may or may not ask you how long the meeting should take. Around 15 minutes is an appropriate timeframe.
    2. Since you are scheduling meetings with both your state senator and state representative, you need to coordinate the times, so they do not overlap.
    3. Give yourself at least 15 minutes between meetings to walk from one office to the other.
  • If the legislative office cannot promise you a specific time to meet with the legislator or staff, tell them you will stop by between 2 – 3:45 p.m. on February 1 and you are happy to meet with whoever is available.
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AFTER YOUR APPOINTMENT IS SCHEDULED

  • Make a note of the appointment time, location, staff person you talked to, and their e-mail address.
  • Email Briana Mascitelli, bmascitelli@ryht.org, to inform her with whom you have scheduled meetings and at what time.
  • Inform your superior, superintendent, and governmental relations office (if applicable) about your planned visit and its purpose, and ask for any guidance and/or guardrails on topics of interest to your district.
  • If you must cancel your symposium attendance, be sure to also cancel your Capitol appointments.

PREPARING FOR YOUR MEETINGS

The two main goals for your meetings are to:

    1. Initiate a relationship with legislators, so they may get to know your school and its successes.
    2. Introduce yourself as a resource to legislators and staff, so they may contact you regarding issues or policy decisions and how they impact your students, your school, and/or your staff.

Achieving Meeting Goals By Telling Your School’s Story

The best way to initiate and build a relationship with your legislators is to tell your story and the story of your school in a compelling, approachable way. Here are some suggestions for crafting your school’s story:

  • Describe who your students are – demographics, statistics, etc.
  • Name specific school successes and challenges
  • Describe how you are:
    1. Raising student achievement
    2. Closing achievement gaps
    3. Innovating for 21st century learning
    4. Personalizing learning to enhance student experiences
    5. Meeting the needs of every student regardless of their challenges
    6. Other strategies or interventions you wish to highlight
  • Share the story of one student, or one group of students, benefiting from change efforts on your campus
  • If you attended the 2015 Leadership Symposium and this is your second time to meet with the same legislator(s), build that into your story. Update the legislators on what has changed/improved since your last meeting, what your students have achieved, etc. If your legislator has visited your campus since 2015, reference the importance of that visit and how you would like to continue to involve the legislator and staff with your campus.

Meeting Tips

Prior To
  • Most legislators are not education experts. They serve on numerous committees and must vote on all statewide issues and the budget. Therefore, make your story simple, approachable, and compelling. Don’t use acronyms or educator speak.
  • If you have visual materials to support your story send those along with your thank you note.  Photos, brochures, or other  materials can be useful in bringing your campus’ story to life. You may also want to create a one-page snapshot of your campus’ key statistics and data.
During
  • Meeting with a staff member in lieu of an elected official is very common and doesn’t reflect a lower priority for the legislator as much as scheduling conflicts. Legislative staff are well-informed and have great influence in their offices. Treat staffers with respect and prioritize forming relationships with them. These relationships are mutually beneficial and can directly impact public education policy.
  • Invite the legislator and staff to visit your campus during the interim (when the legislature is not in session). Follow up on this with a formal invite after session (most likely for fall 2017).
  • Offer your business card and cell phone number to to the legislators and staff.
Following
  • Send a thank you letter or e-mail to the legislator and staff following the meeting, again offering to be a resource for the office regarding education issues and inviting them to visit your campus or meet again in the future.